By on July 26, 2013

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After a French court lifted that country’s ban on Mercedes-Benz cars equipped with R134a air conditioning refrigerant, saying that the French ministry for the environment must reevaluate their decision to block those cars, Daimler said that it was “very confident’ that the French government will abide by that court ruling. R134a has been banned for use in new model cars by the EU since the start of 2013.

According to the summary ruling, the ministry has 10 days to decide if it’s going to try to continue the ban on Mercedes A-class, B-class and SL cars built after June 12, which Daimler has equipped with R134a, now banned by the EU because it is considered a powerful greenhouse gas. The ruling does not force French authorities to allow registrations of those cars during that 10 day period.

A Daimler spokesman said: “We welcome the positive decision of the French court, which clearly rejected the French registration authority (decision) to prevent the registration of our cars.”

If the ban is upheld, it would affect about 29,000 cars annually, about 2% of Mercedes-Benz’s worldwide sales.

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30 Comments on “French Court Backs Mercedes-Benz in R1234yf/R134a Dispute with EU...”


  • avatar
    turbosaab

    First paragraph makes no sense. R134a is what has been banned, not R1234yf.

  • avatar
    bobhaynes88

    The sensitivity around refrigerants in cars is surely because automobile air conditioners (in Europe) are designed to lose their refrigerant to the outside air through their bearing and so need servicing and recharging at regular 3 year intervals.
    The answer is to force car makers to use domestic style compressors with sealed bearings which do not lose their refrigerant and do not tend to pollute the atmosphere, this would enable mildly polluting refrigerants to be used, currently in Europe the authorities know that all the refrigerant will be lost to the atmosphere.

    • 0 avatar
      greaseyknight

      This boggles my mind, but explains the need for the new refrigerant. Why is it that they have been using this compressors? Building a system that needs to be recharged every 3 years makes no sense to me at all, but then again I’m just a unsophisticated American…..The only reason I can think of would be cost in producing the compressor, but it can’t be that much more expensive to used sealed bearings.

    • 0 avatar
      bk_moto

      [citation needed]

    • 0 avatar
      Manic

      Please link to some source. Sounds like conspiracy theory to me. I live here in Europe and have never heard that claim made before.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Evidence of this?

      I find it hard to believe that if the EU is really concerned about the environmental impact of refrigerant, their solution is to force a controversial new chemical on everyone rather than prevent it from reaching the atmosphere in the first place.

      If this is true, it is another level of dysfunction.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Automotive air conditioning compressors do lose some refrigerant at the shaft seal, but it makes good fuel efficiency sense to design them to run directly off the engine instead of indirectly off electricity. The exception is the case of hybrid cars were the gasoline engine is sometimes not running. If I remember correctly, car air conditioning compressors require about 7hp when they’re cooling down a hot car that’s been sitting in the sun. Moving that to electrical power would require electrical system upgrades and a rather big electric motor in the compressor. On top of the mechanical-electrical-mechanical energy conversion losses, the heat from the electric compressor motor has to be removed by the refrigeration cycle.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        Compressors only leak at the seal if they’re not being used and seals dry up. You should never under any circumstance lose any refrigerant, certainly not intentionally to “lubricate a shaft seal”. I think that helps reinforce that myth that “you just need recharge it” that people say when the A/C doesn’t work. . Any loss of refrigerant in an A/C system is due to a leak from a broken or worn seal, not any thing from design or to lubricate seals, and no amount of recharges will fix that. I wish the EPA, instead of trying to ban R134a or, better yet, R12, should’ve just had stricter laws against recharging A/C systems and maybe even campaigning for changes that would help stop leaks better in the first place.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          It is not possible to stop these leaks completely unless they hermetically seal the compressor. The shaft seal will always leak a tiny amount. That’s not some Euro conspiracy, all cars do this. I’ve heard that the main reason the compressor isn’t electric and hermetically sealed is that the manufacturers want the compressor mounted on the engine to absorb vibrations. If it’s already on the engine, it does not make a whole lot of sense to power it electrically. Even the hybrids that do have all electric compressors still mount it to the engine.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      This is a completely ridiculous theory. Car A/C compressors are certainly NOT designed to leak. If they leak, they are broken. I have an ’86 Alfa Romeo Spider in my garage that I have all the service records for since it was bought new. It has NEVER had the A/C topped up, and it still works just fine. Ditto a couple of factory R134 Volvos that have passed through my hands. If a car needs “topping up” there is a leak that should be fixed.

      I think if the EU is so concerned with mandating the use of a particular refrigerant, then they should also mandate that it cost no more than what it is replacing, and that any patents on it are null and void so that anyone can make the stuff. Mandate away!

  • avatar
    Wacko

    Who at TTAC changed their name for TTAC STAFF??
    Why no name of the author??
    Having an article that no one admits too sounds fishy..
    Someone have something to hide at TTAC???

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      There’s an article several pages back explaining the use of the handle.

      But I agree I would much rather see a name, if it has multiple authors, give multiple credits, if its news that is copied from another site, well it would be nice to see that end as every other news site does the same, I would much rather an article that is furthered by an authors opinion and objective, than taken straight from another site.

    • 0 avatar
      TTAC Staff

      No need for paranoia. There’s nothing to hide. As was explained, TTAC Staff posts are straight news items, with no opinion or spin, and they’re written by a rotating cast of team members. We’re not shy about our opinions here at TTAC, but these are not opinion or commentary posts.

      In any case, as Jack explained, he and Derek are ultimately responsible for site content, so if you have an issue with one of the TTAC Staff posts, take it up with D or J.

      It’s not a conspiracy. We’re just trying to increase our automotive news coverage so you come here to get it instead of some other site.

      • 0 avatar
        Wacko

        I get your point but it gives the site a very cheap, unprofessional feeling. It gives the site too much of a copy and paste feel.

        Unless you guys are trying to create something like the stig.

      • 0 avatar

        As long as what is written is not a verbatim copied press release, I don’t see the harm in crediting the writer of the article.

        I’d rather see the writer’s name because it makes the site more personal, and it looks like most commenters who care agree with me :).

        D

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      News outlets with working editorial staff frequently have content attributed to the editorial staff. It’s not a dodge, it’s a statement that the organization is responsible for the content. I’m in favor of it as long as it’s news, automotive, and not troll baiting. For that I wan’t to know who’s body of work to consider the story as a part of.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “….because automobile air conditioners (in Europe) are designed to lose their refrigerant to the outside air through their bearing..”

    I find this bizarre too. Why would anyone want to do this?
    Other than sarcastic ideas, I can’t think of a good technical/economical reason.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Good news for Daimler, though I’m sure in short order Honeywell will be sending bags of money to the EU.

  • avatar
    bobhaynes88

    My post was based on recent personal experience of two family cars one 3 years old a Seat and a 4 year old Ford, I asked the question of the garage why the A/C on both vehicles needed recharging with coolant so soon when Domestic refrigerators lasted up to 20 years.
    The garage owner(Dragon motors of weston super mare) who recharges 100′s of British cars a year and is very knowlegable so I believed him, explained the difference in construction of the two compressors, domestic = sealed bearing whilst cars have bearing lubricated by refrigerant from inside which slowly leaks thru the bearing.
    I was gobsmacked by the lack of ethics displayed by motor manufacturers.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      This story hurts on many levels. Suppose there is a design difference on EU cars where refrigerant is gradually leaked, it raises the following questions for me:
      -Is the leaky bearing so much cheaper that it is worth it for manufacturers to change the part based on the destination country?
      -How can the EU not be aware of it?
      -If the EU is aware of it, why don’t they mandate a sealed bearing and be done with it?
      -If the EU is aware of it and they are choosing to pursue an alternate refrigerant instead of sealed bearings, is it really because of a conspiracy where Honeywell bribes their way into an EU monopoly on refrigerant? I get that shady things happen between large corporations and governments, but this seems like a stretch.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    -Which manufacturers are complying and selling cars with r1234yf?
    -Are cars being sold with r1234yf in the US?
    -Isn’t r1234yf more expensive? If it is, I’m surprised other manufacturers don’t take a more active role in fighting the EU.
    -So why is Mercedes the only one putting up a serious fight? Is it a publicity stunt to stake a claim as the company that really cares about your safety? Is there some other strong financial incentive to stay with r134a that is unique to MB?

    I find this an interesting story just because of the number of unanswered questions it raises. Given the potential sensationalism of MB’s test and a well-know manufacturer fighting the EU, I’m surprised mainstream media hasn’t picked up on this. Maybe they have and I haven’t run into it yet?

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      R1234yf has zero chance of success in the marketplace without a government mandate to buy it. R134a is now a cheap commodity product while R1234yf is still under patent protection. In addition, because R1234yf is flammable, it requires a more elaborate air conditioning design.
      http://seekingalpha.com/article/1304271-dupont-and-honeywells-auto-refrigerant-r1234yf-is-a-dud

      In my opinion, it would be better to just switch to dirt cheap but extremely flammable hydrocarbon (isobutane and/or propane) refrigerant. At least hydrocarbons can’t make lung destroying glass etching hydrofluoric acid when they burn. However, since isobutane and propane are inexpensive naturally occurring molecules, there is little profit opportunity for Honeywell or DuPont.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      The only car with R1234yf in the US is the Cadillac XTS. GM said they were going to introduce on more of their cars here in 2013, but that hasn’t happened yet and I’ll be shocked if it does because the supply for 1234yf is low since most of it has to go to Europe.

      R1234yf is very expensive. The price would theoretically come down the more it’s used and the more supply there is, but right now it’s very expensive. I have no idea how well it works in cars. Coca-Cola is touting it as the “future” and has been putting it in their vending machines.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        The first few hundred 231 chassis Mercedes SLs had R-1234yf. They all have been recalled after the now famous crash test. They are being converted back to R-134a. This to me dispels the myth that Daimler is doing this to save a few pennies. All the A/C systems in the new cars are designed for R-1234yf and the extra little bit the gas costs can’t possibly be close to what this legal battle is costing them.

  • avatar
    Lordbeezel

    If every AC system in every car in the EU spontaneously emitted all their refrigerant, how many cow farts would that be equivalent to?


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